RICHMOND — Hundreds gathered to pray for Richmond police officer Daniel Ellis on Thursday night, one day after he was shot while investigating an attempted robbery
The prayers came during a "Mass for healing and justice" at St. Mark Catholic Church, not far from where the shooting occurred.
Ellis, 33, an officer with the Richmond department for seven years, remained at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital in Lexington, where he was taken after he was shot in the head.
The St. Mark sanctuary seats about 400 people; some people had to stand along the walls in the back during Thursday night's service.
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Michelle Sweat of Richmond said it was important for her to attend "because I know police officers put their lives on the line each and every day."
Paula Adkins, wife of Richmond police officer Jake Adkins, prayed fervently and cried throughout the service.
"It was important for us to all come together and just show our support, and be there for each other," Paula Adkins said. "As far as what it meant to me, it meant that people are supporting us with lots of hugs, lots of prayers from people we don't know."
Parishioners and visitors applauded when the Rev. Jim Sichko, pastor of St. Mark, said, "I want to say publicly how I support the men and women in blue. Thank you for your gift of service to us."
When he heard about the shooting, Sichko said he took a red-eye flight from Utah to return to Richmond because he thought it was important to minister to a hurting community.
"This is happening way too much, and we need to say 'enough is enough,'" Sichko said before the service. "And one of the ways we do that is to gather in prayer, we support one another and we try to process what is happening."
Sichko also called on the audience to forgive those charged in the shooting of Ellis.
"We have to pray, too, for healing for those who cause us to question, and yes, for those who cause us to possibly hate," Sichko said.
Earlier Thursday, more details came out about the man accused of shooting Ellis. Raleigh Sizemore had absconded from parole after serving a prison sentence for manufacturing methamphetamine, records show.
Sizemore, 34, of Richmond was charged Wednesday night with attempted murder of a police officer and unlawful imprisonment.
State police also charged Gregory Ratliff, 25, of Richmond with complicity to commit murder of a police officer. He was being held in the Madison County jail. Rita Creech, 44, of Richmond was charged with first-degree robbery.
Sizemore was released in April on parole after serving about three years of a 10-year sentence for manufacturing methamphetamine and first-degree criminal mischief, according to state corrections records.
Ellis was shot about 10:30 a.m. while searching Ratliff's apartment on Ballard Drive in Richmond as he and another officer investigated an attempted robbery earlier Wednesday at a gas station about a half-mile away, state police said.
Sizemore allegedly told Ratliff he did not intend to go back to prison and warned "not to let them in or he would shoot" Ratliff, according to a police report on file at the jail. Sizemore, with a gun in his hand, then led Creech to a bedroom in the back of the apartment, the report said.
Ratliff let Ellis into the apartment and allowed him to search but said no one else was there and that there were no weapons in the apartment, the report said.
Sizemore shot Ellis in the head "as soon as he began to cross the threshold of the bedroom door," the report said.